Women’s Tennis Association shelves all tournaments in China amid Peng issues

The Women’s Tennis Association has suspended all tournaments in China amid issues for the welfare of Chinese player, Peng Shuai. According to an AFP report, Steve Simon from the WTA says the tournaments, including these planned for Hong Kong, cannot go ahead while Peng is unable to talk freely. The Winter Olympics are due to happen in Beijing in February.
“In good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault.”

Peng disappeared for 2 weeks after alleging she was sexually abused for years by Zhang Gaoli, a former senior official in the governing Chinese Communist Party. The allegation, which appeared on social media, has now been deleted. Since then, Peng has re-appeared in public and has had a video name with Thomas Bach from the International Olympic Committee. However, Simon does not consider she was speaking freely on that call, during which she insisted she was secure and well and needed her privateness revered.
“While we now know where Peng is, I even have serious doubts that she is free, secure, and not subject to censorship, coercion, and intimidation. None of that is acceptable nor can it turn into acceptable. If Odd can suppress the voices of women and sweep allegations of sexual assault under the rug, then the premise on which the WTA was founded – equality for ladies – would endure an immense setback.”

Simon has welcomed the help of the European Union, the United Nations, the US, and the UK, all of whom have referred to as on the Chinese government for extra proof that Peng is not being censored or intimidated. Meanwhile, based on the AFP report, the International Tennis Federation says it understands why the WTA needed to take the stance it has.
“The WTA has stood agency and true to its values from the beginning and we perceive their choice. We will proceed to closely monitor the situation.”

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